CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The city of Chicopee held a first-of-its-kid flag raising at the City Hall flag plaza Tuesday morning.

In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, city leaders raised the ‘Mental Health Awareness Month flag” to promote education and awareness. The goal of this observance is to break the stigma often associated with mental illnesses.

22News spoke with local mental health counselor Marguerite Haugh at the flag-raising, who described what a special moment it was to be openly and publicly addressing mental health, “Well I’ve been in the field for 30-plus years with people young, young, young through adult ages and so being able to come on TV and have this in Chicopee, it just lets us know how far we have come.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, millions of Americans face mental illness every year. Mental health professionals encourage anyone who may be experiencing a mental health issues to speak out and connect with available resources.

They also emphasize how powerful it can be to share your own mental health struggles with others to continue to reduce the stigma.